An Interdisciplinary Approach to Cultural Relevance in the Curriculum
Concurrent Session 8
Ashford University is working to create the content and the environment most engaging and conducive to success for all its students, including historically underserved racial and ethnic groups that form a large proportion of its student body. We report on a collaboration among faculty, library personnel, and instructional designers, intended to develop an academic program that not only aligns with academic and professional standards, but is also culturally relevant and exhibits principles of diversity.
College access and achievement for US underserved student populations has been continuously increasing, but important gaps still exist. The US now ranks 19 in college attainment among OECD countries after being ranked first in 1995. Differences in access and achievement among racial and ethnic groups persist at the graduate level. A more important enhancement of educational attainment for diverse strata of the USA population is needed. However, serving diverse students requires institutional commitment and targeted strategy.
A culturally relevant curriculum combined with culturally competent instruction, and appropriate support systems are likely to contribute to increased attainment. Online learning provides opportunities to enhance both access and success, but success varies. A model of modified instruction and comprehensive institutional strategies that consider the student as a whole and target all stages of the student lifecycle is likely to yield the desired results.
While academic programs at Ashford University are developed in accordance with rigorous academic and professional standards, embedding diversity principles in the curriculum will further promote student learning and success. Such principles can enhance emotional engagement, self-efficacy, and a sense of affiliation, likely contributing to student retention and achievement.